Emperor Go Momozono

Emperor Go Momozono

Go-Momozono Tennō (後桃園天皇) (August 5, 1758 - December 16, 1779) was the 118th emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession. He reigned from May 23, 1771 until his death in 1779.

He was succeeded by his second cousin, Kōkaku Tennō. His personal name was Hidehito (英仁).

The wording of go- (後) in the Emperor's name translates as "later or late", so he is also known as "later Emperor Momozono", "Momozono, the second" or "Momozono II".

Go-Momozono became emperor in 1771, but had a brief reign that lasted until his death in 1779. Events during his reign were limited to a series of natural calamities that occurred in 1772, other than that the political situation with the Shōgun was calm.

Things came to a head toward the end of Go-Momozono's life in the form of a succession problem as the Emperor had no eligible successor.

As a result, he hastily adopted a son on his deathbed who later became the next emperor.

Emperor Go Momozono's Early life

He became crown prince in 1768. Two years later, in 1771, his aunt, Empress Go-Sakuramachi, ceded the throne to him. The emperor was infirm and, in 1779, died at the age of just 21.

Because he had only one daughter, he hastily adopted a son from the Kan'in branch of the Imperial Family who was to become Emperor Kōkaku. His daughter was married to Emperor Kokakak, Imperial Princess Yoshiko (欣子内親王).

Prior to Go-Momozono's accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (imina) was Hidehito (英 仁) Prince Hidehito was born on August 5, 1758 and was the first-born son of Emperor Momozono.

After his father died in 1762, the title of Emperor went to his aunt, who became known as Empress Go-Sakuramachi.

Hidehito was considered too young to become Emperor at that time, but was named Crown Prince and heir 5 years later. Empress Go-Sakuramachi abdicated in favor of her nephew on January 9, 1771, and Prince Hidehito became Emperor immediately.

As emperor

Little more than a year had passed in Go-Momozono's reign before Japan was struck with "The Great Fire of Meiwa."

On February 29, 1772, unofficial reports described a swath of ash and cinders nearly five miles wide and 15 miles (24 km) long, destroying 178 temples and shrines, 127 daimyo residences, 878 unofficial residences, 8705 Hatamoto houses, and 628 commercial dwelling blocks, with estimates of over 6,000 casualties.

All this devastation subsequently engendered reconstruction costs.8 The year 1772 as a whole was later called the "year of trouble" because it was marked by an extraordinary succession of natural calamities.

A contemporary pun was made linking the words "Meiwa" + "ku" (meaning "Meiwa 9," i.e., the year 1772 according to the era calendar) and the sound-like word "meiwaku" (meaning "misfortune" or " trouble ").

In addition to the fire, a storm hit the Kantō region, causing flooding and ruining crops. Another storm brought floods and strong winds to the Kantō region, destroying approximately 4,000 houses in Edo (present-day Tokyo) alone.

The name of the era was changed at the end of the year to Anei (meaning "eternal tranquility"); but this symbolic act proved futile. Epidemic diseases spread throughout the country in 1775, resulting in an estimated 190,000 deaths in Edo.

Problem of succession and death

Go-Momozono's imperial family lived with him in the Dairi of the Heian Palace, never officially married and only had children with a court lady named Konoe Koreko (近衛 維 子).

This family included at least 2 sons who died in infancy and a 10-month-old daughter at the time of the Emperor's untimely death. Emperor Go-Momozono became ill in 1779, but his daughter was ineligible to become empress due to her age.

When it became clear that the Emperor would not survive, his aunt, the former Empress Go-Sakuramachi, had him adopt a son on his deathbed.

The adopted son was from the Kan'in branch of the imperial family, and would become the next emperor. Go-Momozono died on December 16, 1779 at the age of 21, and his adopted son, Prince Morohito, became Emperor Kōkaku the following year.

Go-Momozono's only daughter, Princess Yoshiko, would later become Kōkaku's principal wife (chūgū).

The Go-Momozono kami is enshrined in the imperial mausoleum, Tsuki no wa no misasagi, at Sennyū-ji in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto.

Also enshrined at this location are the immediate imperial predecessors of this Emperor since Emperor Go-Mizunoo: Meishō, Go-Kōmyō, Go-Sai, Reigen, Higashiyama, Nakamikado, Sakuramachi, Momozono and Go-Sakuramachi.

The shrine complex also encompasses the misasagi of three of Go-Momozono's immediate successors: Kōkaku, Ninkō and Kōmei.

Eras of Emperor Go Momozono reign.

The years of Go-Momozono's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name: While Kugyō (公卿) is a collective term for the very few most powerful men attached to the court of the Emperor of Japan in the pre-Meiji eras.

Even during those years when the actual influence of the court outside the palace walls was minimal, the hierarchical organization persisted. In general, this elite group included only three to four men at a time.

They were hereditary courtiers whose experience and background would have brought them to the pinnacle of a lifetime career. During the reign of Go-Momozono, this apex of the Daijō-kan included: Sadaijin, Udaijin, Naidaijin and Dainagon.

The following eras occurred during Go-Momozono's reign:

  • Meiwa (1764-1772).
  • An'ei (1772-1781)

Emperor Go Momozono Genealogy

  • Only child: imperial Princess Kinko (欣子内親王)- Later head wife of Emperor Kokaku (chūgū), Yoshiko (, 欣子内親王).
  • Adopted son: Imperial Prince Tomohito (兼仁親王) (Emperor Kōkaku, sixth son of Imperial Prince Kan'in-no-miya Sukehito).